Farmers produced 61 million bags of maize

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi (centre) inspects maize bags at the NCPB depot in Nakuru on January 31, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has said farmers produced 61 million bags of maize in the last year, which must now be properly stored after testing.

Speaking during the opening of a new aflatoxin testing laboratory at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depot in North Imenti, Meru county, the CS said the government has intensified distribution of fertiliser to farmers and targets 80 million bags of maize this year.

“We are now at another phase because we want to produce 80 million bags this year. We want to exceed our national consumption average of maize,” said the CS.

"As we continually distribute fertiliser in the North Rift and South Rift, we at the same time are able to support our farmers who are harvesting so that the crop they are harvesting now is properly dried to the right moisture levels," he added.

Linturi said the aflatoxin testing laboratory was aimed at ensuring the food people consume is safe. It is the first time such a facility was commissioned in Meru, a region Linturi noted had a high prevalence of cancer.

The CS, who was flanked by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) Chairman Joseph Eruaki and Meru Assembly Speaker Ayub Bundi, assured that the government is committed to ensuring that Kenyans get safe food, as farmers usually sell and store their produce at the NCPB depots across the country.

“Meru leads this country in cases of cancer. Scientific research has shown that there is some connection between cancer and consumption of contaminated food that has toxins like aflatoxin,” he said.

He noted that the cost of drying a 90-kg bag of maize was Sh150, but had been reduced to Sh70 to incentivise the farmers. “We only charge Sh10 for storage which is used to run the depot. The minimal fee is just to keep the institution running because we cannot operate without power or fumigation,” he said.

Linturi and Tigania West MP John Mutunga also launched the construction of another cereals store at Kianjai. 

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